First published back in July of 2010, Canadian author D. O. Dodd’s third novel to see publication was rather simply and starkly entitled ‘Jew’.

DLS Synopsis:
He regains consciousness deep within a pile of corpses.  The man has no understanding or recollection of how he got there or indeed who he is.  He struggles through the mass of dead bodies, to clamber naked from the top of the huge mound of dead.

Nearby he stumbles upon an unlocked property, where inside he finds a full military uniform and loaded service revolver.  After putting on the clothes, our disorientated would-be-narrator creeps through the building until he is confronted by a man sleeping in a bed alongside the lifeless corpse of a woman.  Upon waking, the man in the bed has a moment of recognition, as if looking at himself in the mirror, before he is shot by the confused intruder.

Now fully clothed, the man drives to a nearby town where he appears to be expected.  The soldiers there, each baring the same uniform as him, await his orders.  Their oppressive stranglehold over the town has left the men of the community dead and the women naked and working as slaves.

Cautiously learning that he has been mistaken for that of their commander, the man uses his newly acquired power to rescue a woman from the torments of two soldiers.  Whether by luck, fate or some deep-rooted subconscious memory, it becomes apparent that the woman has a history with the real commander that this man is now impersonating.

As he slowly learns more of the situation, the man he has been mistaken for, and the realities of his new power; the realisation of what he is now capable of becomes startlingly apparent.  The next few days are to be a test of who he is, and who he will ultimately become...

DLS Review:
The very first thing that you notice about Dodd’s novel ‘Jew’ is the bold sleeve of the book, with its frighteningly stark title emblazoned over the upside-down profile of a man in shadows.  Intriguing as it is, upon opening the book the reader is greeted by a morbidly grotesque illustration of the naked man awakening amongst the pile of human corpses.  Even before the first word of the story has been uttered, the atmosphere and mood has already been set.

Each chapter begins with a continually downbeat black & white illustration, echoing the deeply unsettling undertones of this purposely disorientating tale.  Throughout the novel there is a prominent avoidance of any names, details of insignias, or any such confirmation or connection to the circumstances being portrayed.  This alone is relatively unsettling in its mysterious and disorientating nature.  The resulting storyline just pushes the reader off the cliff and into a bottomless abyss of unsettling confusion.

Dialogue is limited, direct and relatively unhelpful; although it does often open up further doors of misunderstanding.  The novel seems to almost insist upon its need for a first-person-perspective, which is never given.  The outside perspective just disorientates the reader further – a cunning ploy that works so subtlety, yet with such clear success.

As the storyline progresses, so does definite suggestions of who the man is and how this mistaken identity has come about.  The humiliation, slavery, casual murder and humanless rules set down by this oppressive military presence, chill the reader to the very bone.  These shocking blueprints to a very brutal reality are all too obvious, painting a disturbing picture of the callous nature of humanity that has already plagued history.

The poetic backbone of the novel gradually draws the tale to a close.  The ending is as hauntingly downbeat as the entire story has been thus far. 

All in all, the novel is a tour-de-force of disorientation and disturbing confusion.  The stark glimpses of the shocking use of power and the truly grotesque actions on show are like six-inch nails being pounded into the flesh of the book.  The end result is a powerfully haunting piece of fiction that seems to bear witness to the crimes of an ungodly past reality.

The novel runs for a total of 174 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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